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Literally Shakespeare

Media Release
Literally Shakespeare
March 2008

With the top six Drama Scholarship students having been in Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand's (SGCNZ) University of Otago Sheilah Winn Festivals of Shakespeare in Schools (UOSWFSS) and its National Shakespeare Schools Production (NSSP), the majority of Wellington Fringe Festival plays being performed by Alumni, productions being written and directed by more former participants, and Summer Shakespeare productions around the country also featuring them, it is very clear that young people love the Bard!

As literacy levels are hotly debated, these young folk of all ethnicities are already doing what is being proposed as methods of increasing at least two of the '3 Rs'. What better way than so successfully tackling the text of arguably the best playwright of all time, and in the process discovering the delight of the language, the puns, alliteration, allegory and timbre of the words.
At the same time, they realise that issues were basically just the same over 400 years ago!

In over half the secondary schools throughout the country students direct five minute excerpts from any of Shakespeare's plays. Fifteen minute scenes may be directed by adults or students.
"The innovative approaches contain such enthusiasm, sincerity and integrity," said SGCNZ CEO Dawn Sanders, "whether performed in sumptuous or rustic Elizabethan style, or rumbustious rugby or rap renditions."

As it is now a requirement that SGCNZ Young Shakespeare Company members who are chosen each year from the Regional and National Festivals and then the week-long intensive, National Shakespeare Schools Production, actively encourage schools which have not been participating to become involved, positive evidence of this is growing. Many direct groups, incorporating the skills they have learnt at the Globe and expose the next generation to the rigours of presenting oneself in an environment where there is nowhere to hide, and where self-presentation skills are paramount. "These put the students in good steed for whatever occupation they pursue," added Mrs Sanders.

In Blenheim this year where the teachers who had previously been the Regional Representatives and organised that region's Festival were too busy, Monique Webster, member of SGCNZ YSC 2008 has ably stepped in the role a fantastic achievement by one so young, and a great fillip already on her CV. Former SGCNZ YSC and NSSP members, Fiona McNamara and Max Hardy are working with groups from schools in Wellington. Other Alumni regularly pop in as interns, cultivating a culture of volunteering.

>From each of the Regional Festivals in twenty-two centres around the country, a 5-minute and a 15-minute group is selected to perform at SGCNZ's National University of Otago Sheilah Winn Festival of Shakespeare in Schools held at Wellington East Girls' College Hall over Queen's Birthday weekend. On Saturday 31 May from 11am-5.30pm and Sunday 1 June from 9am-4.30pm the groups will perform to the public and their colleagues. Between 7.00-9.30pm on the Sunday evening, the SGCNZ YSC 2008 members will perform, followed by presentations of the winners of the SGCNZ/Bernina Costume Design Competition, SGCNZ/Morrison Trust Music Composition Competition, SGCNZ/Dymocks Poster Design Competition and SGCNZ Essay Competition, along with all the other awards.

SGCNZ operates on a proverbial shoe-string with one partly-paid staff member and hundreds of essential, invaluable volunteers nationwide. Opportunities to become 1000 Club members donating $1000 as a one-off or annually for as long as desired, bequests, donations 'untagged' or 'tagged' for a range of purposes will help SGCNZ to continue to provide a wealth of ways to enrich the lives of our young people as they set out on their career paths, wherever they may lead to.

For the 22 Regional Festival details visit:

National UOSWFSS Tickets: Door sales Adults $10 ($8 SGCNZ Friends) Students $5.
Wellington East Girls' College Hall, Austin Street, Wellington


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